Another file for the Royal Commission?

I really wonder why anyone would join a trade union given the tendency of the officials to use the dues to engage in various pet projects and support political parties.

Of course, some unions do handle individual grievances pretty well and members get some real benefits at that point.  (I recall an instance at Flinders University where the local NTEU provided excellent service to one of my colleagues.)

But of course when it comes to collective bargaining, the better performing staff get dudded unless they can do a separate individual deal on the side (which is, ironically, very common at universities given their public posturings).

Some unions do put out misinformation about the need to join up – nurses, for instance, are told they need the personal indemnity insurance product offered by the union whereas the vast majority of nurses will be indemnified by their employer.

But here is a story from Queensland which could be another file for the upcoming Royal Commission into union governance and corruption (check out the names: Together Union???):

ONE of Queensland’s biggest industrial unions has funnelled $7.5 million of member funds into a company to circumvent the Newman Government’s crackdown on political campaigns.

The union-controlled slush fund is now being used to bankroll a political campaign against the Newman Government while sidestepping its tough new“union transparency” laws.

Together union boss Alex Scott said he had legal advice that the union funds – representing 10 years worth of union fees – was out of reach of the new union laws because the money was transferred before the legislation was enacted by State Parliament.

The $7.5 million was rolled over from Queensland’s Together union to a fund held by the Australian Services Union before being placed into the company Working for Queenslanders Limited.

Working for Queenslanders is controlled by three directors: Together secretary Alex Scott, president Vivienne Doogan and assistant secretary Julie Bignell.

Working for Queenslanders was established after the controversial Industrial Relations (Transparency and Accountability of Industrial Organisations) Bill was introduced into State Parliament last April, but before it was passed by the house.

The laws force unions to publicly declare spending and the income of union bosses.

 Workers from the Together Union protest outside Parliament House.

Workers from the Together Union protest outside Parliament House.

Unions are also forced to ballot all members and receive majority support before they can legally spend more than $10,000 on a particular political campaign or purpose in a year.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie pushed “anti-avoidance” amendments through State Parliament last August to stop what he described as a “flagrant” and “sneaky” attempt to flout the new laws by setting up Working for Queenslanders.

The measures attempted to capture companies classed as “associates” of unions under the laws.

But Mr Scott said it had legal advice that the changes could not shut down the company’spolitical campaign activities.

“The advice we have is that those tests mean Working for Queenslanders isn’t an associated entity,” Mr Scott said.

“They (the Newman Government) have a long track record of making amendment after amendment because they rush legislation (through),”

Mr Bleijie said last night his department was investigating.

“We put these transparency laws in place to empower the hardworking, grassroots members of industrial organisations and give them a chance to have a say on how their membership fees were being spent,” Mr Bleijie said.

But Mr Scott said the $7.5 million was transferred after members approved the move in a ballot.

He said the money had been collected from members for a public sector defence fund over and above their union fees.

The fighting fund was used last year to fund polling ahead of the February 22 Redcliffe by-election and for advertisements attacking the state’s anti-bikie laws.

Meanwhile, Queensland Nurses Union secretary Beth Mohle has denied that a new $1 a week levy on its members was a “rally fee,” saying the fee was a fund for “community engagement activities”.

She said the new fee, to come into effect from July 1 was for a new Nurse Power fund to support the union’s campaigning, organising and community engagement activities.

She said the sum would be maintained for the specific purpose of raising and improving awareness of nursing and midwifery issues and the profession, advancing nursing and midwives pay and conditions, advocating for adequate funding for the health system and other community activities.

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9 Responses to Another file for the Royal Commission?

  1. Ant

    Every significant criminal operation needs its army of loyal drones.

  2. Tintarella di Luna

    Union-Labor the most comprehensive untouchable criminal enterprise in Australia

  3. Baldrick

    Funny how the Working for Queenslanders website makes absolutely zero mention that it’s controlled by a ‘union’.

    “Our movement is run by the community. Our community of women and men, young and old, working and not working, are passionate about ensuring a good future for their state – we are Working for Queenslanders.”

    “Working for Queenslanders is a community movement that supports the lifestyle and values that have made Queensland great. “

    You’d have to wonder what have they got to hide?

  4. Des Deskperson

    ‘Of course, some unions do handle individual grievances pretty well and members get some real benefits at that point.’

    Interesting to note here the while the industrial influence and skills of the Community and Public Sector Union – the main Australian (Commonwealth) public service union – have declined sharply, the quality of it’s support for individual members – representation, guidance, advice (much of it quite sensible) and overall administrative efficiency – has improved exponentially.

    Industrially, of course, it has lost its way. It no longer has a quasi-official role and it’s current leader, Nadine Flood, doesn’t seem to have much of a grip on reality. It claims around 55,000 members at Commonwealth level out of about 172,000 if you include the ACT public service, or around 32%. Dunno whether this is growing or falling, but it’s less than what it used to have back in the nineties.

  5. I actually believe in high rates of unionism. I think that if many in the workforce are enrolled in the union, the union becomes less aggressive because more level headed reasonable people are among the ranks.
    I have also been a member of any professional organisation open to me over the years.
    Membership should be encouraged.

  6. JaneS

    So if the unions feels secure, they behave better?

    Sorry, we’re not there to help prop up their self-esteem and make them feel secure.

  7. Eyrie

    Alex Scott. Isn’t he the fat, soft, jowly bastard that appears on TV as the spokesperson? Doesn’t look like he’s ever done a day’s work in his life.

  8. Eyrie

    henry 2: nah, they should be outlawed as criminal organisations. Come to think of it maybe Campbell Newman can use his bikie legislation against them?

  9. HK_Brother

    I’m actually not surprised by the dodgy behaviour of unions in general…Mainly because I looked at the numbers and trends.

    Here’s an example:
    => In 1985, about half the Australian working population was in a big union.
    => Today? Its about 20%.

    It only slowed down under Rudd/Gillard Govts.

    The overall trend though, indicates that people just prefer to set up their own business and be their own boss. From tradies to home offices selling products online. No one wants to pay various fees and “contributions” that basically feed a bunch of aristocrats at the top of the union food chain.

    Seriously, have you seen Craig Thomson’s tastes of porn films? (The titles of the videos he viewed were made public). Its seriously gross! Involving milk injected into places where it normally doesn’t go. *urk!*

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